Rugby League Report: North Wales Crusaders 40 Doncaster 12

Paul Cooke
Paul Cooke
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Doncaster made an early exit from the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup as North Wales Crusaders put them to the sword, 40-12, in their fourth round tie.

The Dons, who prop up the Championship table after losing their first five league games, had hoped to kick-start their 2015 campaign with a victory over the League One side at The Racecourse Ground.

Instead they finished also-rans as the home side galloped to victory in a one-sided second half.

Some straight talking by player-coach Paul Cooke at the end of a first half which saw the Dons trailing 18-6, looked to have had an affect as second-rower Jack Walton touched down for a converted try early in the second half to close the gap to six points.

But that was as good as it got for the Dons as, not for the first time this season, their challenge wilted in the second half.

Crusaders ran in a further four tries – all scored by winger Rob Massam - without reply.

The reasons for the team’s failure to compete for the full 80 minutes in any game apart from the home defeat against Featherstone, must be tackled as a matter of urgency.

The Dons made the early running with scrum-half Richard Wilkinson – injured late on -and hooker Kyle Kesik, only denied a try after electing to try and force his way over from acting half-back by the posts, both going close in a bright opening spell.

The visitor’s early pressure paid off when Walton stepped his way over for his debut Championship try for the club. Dave Scott added the extras to make it 6-0.

Crusaders drew level on14 minutes with centre Alex Thompson rounding off a bout of excellent handling when touching down near enough for full-back Tommy Johnson to convert.

The Dons continued to concede too many penalties and Johnson made them pay when edging Crusaders into an 8-6 lead early in the second quarter.

Crusaders, who attacking play caused problems throughout, twice went close before winger Stuart Rearden latched on to a high kick to the right flank by Craig White from the last play of the set and touched down for a unconverted try.

It got worse for the Dons as second-rower Stephen Wild created the chance for Johnson to cross for a try he also converted, with a superb offload.

The Dons finished the half on the attack but both Steve Snitch and New Mitch Clark were prevented from getting the ball down.

North Wales Crusaders: Johnson; Massam, Roets, Thompson, Reardon; White, Dallimore; Burke,Ashall, Walker, Smith,Wild, Middlehurst. Subs: Wright, Duffy,Hobson, Davies.

Doncaster: Waterman; Scott, Welham, Leaf, Vincent; Cooke, Wilkinson; Robinson,Kesik, Waller, Walton, Snitch, Emmett. Subs:Wilson, Kelly, Clark, Carbutt.